Monday, July 02, 2007

Tainted Livestock

Doug asked:
(1.) 'Kay, Bix, here's the $64,000 question: do you believe that "melamine fed to livestock destined for the consumer food supply poses no threat to human health"?

(2.) I'm also wondering if our livestock are STILL being fed melamine-contaminated food. (3.) If not, how long before we can safely go back to eating supermarket chicken, pork, etc.?
Short answers:
(1.) No. (2.) Not knowingly. (3.) I don't know.

Take that quote: "melamine fed to livestock destined for the consumer food supply poses no threat to human health" and replace the word "no" with "low".

The FDA admits to a low threat, not an absent threat. My Senator should know better.

When a CNN reporter asked:
"Now that the risk assessment for melamine in feed for livestock is low, does that mean that you will then allow the pet food companies to sell all their recalled food to livestock companies as long as it's used in a small amount?"
The FDA responded:
"The answer is no - that we consider any of the tests positive to be adulterated and could not be used to further process into feed."
(What standard of health defines a food as adulterated, yet allows its continued sale and consumption?... the standard of health that has business interests in mind. That CNN reporter should get a medal for asking that question.)

The risk is not so much in feeding a tainted chicken breast to a healthy 30-year-old. It's in feeding it to someone with kidney problems (many diabetics), or others with metabolic disorders, over and over again.

No one has adequately addressed the risk of chronic, low-level ingestion of melamine, which might be had from various sources, not just contaminated pet food. (800 hogs' urine tested positive for melamine, yet these hogs were never fed the contaminated feed.)

There's also the question of toxicity when melamine is combined with other chemicals in vivo, chemicals that should also not be in our food (e.g. cyanuric acid). This last question may be difficult to answer since it doesn't look like we're fully cognizant of what those chemicals are.

Speaking of chemicals that shouldn't be in our food ... the Chinese seafood that was detained at port contained chemicals that, according to the FDA, "have been shown to be carcinogenic with long-term exposure in lab animals." How long have we been eating them?

I want to see more inspections.
Photo of chicken by the Italian photographer Pascal Oliver Marolla. Here's his gallery.

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